Maps & Travels
Towns & Villages
Castles & Houses
Odds & Ends
Place of Prisoners & Pilgrims
- In Saxon times, Sonning was the home of a minor King called Sunna. It
means 'Sunna's People'. He owned other villages at Sunninghill,
Sunningdale and Sunningwell. His kingdom covered most of East
Berkshire. It was called Sunningum.
- In AD 909, Sonning Church became a Cathedral for the new Bishop of
Ramsbury & Sonning. Ramsbury is in Wiltshire, near Hungerford. The
Bishop had a wooden palace next to his Cathedral where they often lived.
- Later the Bishop moved his Cathedral to Salisbury in Wiltshire, but
he still lived at the palace in Sonning when visiting Berkshire.
- In Medieval times, the palace was rebuilt in stone. In 1337, the
Bishop was given permission to 'crenellate' it, like a castle.
- Lots of pilgrims visited Sonning to see the relic
of St. Sarik which was kept in the church.
- During King John's war with his Barons, he made the Bishop of
Salisbury keep some of his enemies prisoner at Sonning Palace.
- Queen Isabella was also imprisoned there in 1396. Her husband, King
Richard II, had been locked up by his cousin, Henry IV, who wanted to
be King instead.
- Richard's friend, the Earl of Salisbury from Bisham 'Abbey'
tried to start a rebellion against King Henry. He visited Isabella at
Sonning, but she couldn't help him. She was only 7 years old!
- In Tudor times, Queen Elizabeth I bought Sonning Palace. She visited
occasionally but left a steward to look after it for most of the time.
- Later Kings and Queens ignored the place and it began to fall down.
Just before the English Civil War, King
Charles I was short of cash and sold it to raise some money.
- In 1654, Sir Thomas Rich bought the old palace. He pulled it down
and built himself a new house called Holme Park. He was a rich
merchant from Gloucester.
- A Georgian House was built there by the Palmer family in 1796 and
updated again in 1881.
- The house is now the Reading Blue Coat School.